Five die as forest fires sweep Russia

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Five people died as forest fires swept through central Russia amid a record heatwave, destroying villages of wooden houses, the emergency ministry said Friday.

Five people died in fires on Thursday in the central Voronezh region, while 21 people were hospitalised, the ministry said. President Dmitry Medvedev told the government to take urgent measures to quench the fires.

Hot dry conditions have led to forest fires and smouldering peat that has enveloped Moscow in smog and led to the evacuation of thousands of residents from villages in central Russia, where hundreds of houses have been destroyed.

© 2010 AFP

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